Pastor John Van Sloten's Blog 2001-2007

John Van Sloten's Blog 2001 - 2007


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Day 18 – Granum to Taber – 125k

July 13, 2005


34 degrees. Head wind for 80% of the ride. Day after 157k run. Ipod.

Let me tell you, riding to music is God’s gift on tough biking days. The whole day I was leading our group. 28-30 kph into a fairly stiff breeze and I was totally loving it. First it was the Cars’ greatest hits, then some Kansas, and then the Eagles. Boy does that list ever make me an old fart.
Right now everyone is totally wiped out. Seems all those people who warned that Prairie headwinds would be our greatest challenge were right. For me the days are long, but not all that unbearable; at least not so far.

Looking ahead this is going to be a killer week. 127 tomorrow, 167 on Thursday… and it just goes on. Longest week of the tour. Last night I slept for 8 hours straight. I think that’s going to be the ticket for keeping my strength up.

Lot’s of media stuff today regarding the ride. Even got an out of the blue call from Bill Graveland at Canadian Press, asking what I thought about Ralph Klein’s decision to let the gay marriage thing happen in Alberta. Hope I didn’t get myself into too much trouble.  After getting totally raked over the coals by some guy at lunch today (about calling New Hope a ‘kick ass church’ on CJAY last week… yeah… I know… maybe a bit better judgment might have been in order!), I’m feeling a bit leery about opening my big mouth too widely. Sadly, I don’t feel that leeriness all that often. I’m trying to figure out where the line is between being non-conformist and being a smart as…aleck. When does being genuine cross the line? Or is there even a line? Or am I writing too many lines about this conundrum?

I’m always amazed at how God will sometimes speak through a person like me. Fairly immature, way to interested in the next laugh, always bucking the system in one way or another… you get the picture. And yet, His word does get out. Grace.

Later on in the ride today I did a little bit of free loading. Turning onto the last 20k stretch I came up to a group of 10 riders and hitched a ride (rode in their draft… wind not beer…) Then we got passed by an even faster team; one tandem, one skinny guy and one absolutely huge dude on the tail. They were humming along at 40 kph. After riding that train for 30 minutes, the winds shifted and I was able to do 35 all the way home.

Great day. Several riders will be done their portion of the ride on Saturday (1/3 of the way), while others join on. The majority of us are doing the whole thing. It’s gotta be tough to leave this thing now.

Authored by: rob_b on Saturday, July 16 2005 @ 05:13 PM PDT
It was great to see the pictures and postings after a couple of days without internet. Hard to believe the ride is already 1/3 done.

For those interested in John's comments about "When does being genuine cross the line? Or is there even a line?" He's not the only one asking. A Christian webzine - ship-of-fools.com is asking the question about religious jokes.

What is it about offensive jokes that offends?
Is anything too sacred for laughter?
Where do you draw your line, if anywhere?
Can you find something funny and blasphemous at the same time?
Is this whole exercise thought-provoking, scandalous, or a complete joke?

http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/frameit.htm?cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=forum;f=61

It's good to see that Christians can be real with their comments and their jokes




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Day 17 – Calgary to Granum – 157k

July 12, 2005


Day 17 – Calgary to Granum – 157k

Started the day off waking up beside my first wife. I wondered why in the world I would want to leave all of the comforts of home and head out onto this bike journey again. It was so beautiful to feel Edward’s hand in mine, to be smothered by his kisses, to watch my older teenagers go and grow about their lives, to love Fran. I was also pretty impressed with the other luxuries of our home; electricity at your finger tips, strong coffee, a soft chair, and a readily accessible source of water.
I have no idea how good I have it at home. We’re rich.

Kissing Fran goodbye was kind of tough. As I drove out of the city on a very familiar route, I rode by myself and thought about it all. These pathways that always brought me back home are now going to lead me away for a very long period; 8 weeks. I’ve never been away from my family for that long a time. I don’t know what to expect.

Today’s ride was a doozy. The only concern I really had was the possibility of a headwind. What we ended up with was a strong, 30% head/ 70% side wind. It sapped a lot of people, but I actually enjoyed it. I’m a much better biker on the flats. Speaking of which, I got 4 of them today. Really. Hard to believe that’s possible, but on this journey it seems all is possible for me.

I’m prayin that the wind is even stronger tomorrow. We head due east all day and head for Taber.

Been thinking a lot about the service yesterday, and how proud I am to be a part of New Hope. I can’t imagine feeling more at home anywhere else.

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 12 2005 @ 02:05 PM PDT
Pastor John,

As an avid cyclist, brother to Pete Stellingwerff, and supporter of this great venture I wish to encourage you and the "peloton" in your great ride! I feel like I'm riding with the group as I read your's and others most interesting updates and follow your progress via csi wireless. I find myself encouraging guys like "uncle Hank" and hoping he gets an upgraded ride; cheering the riders through the mtn passes, and praying lots for safety and perseverence on the long endless hyw's and byw's of the prairies.

Thanks so much to you all for being such great ambassadors for the CRC, Canada, and our Lord of all!

God bless you and keep you and shine his face on you (and blow the wind at your backs)!

John Stellingwerff



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Day 16 – Rest Day in Calgary

July 11, 2005


Did the big celebration service this am.
(Listen to the service, mp3 streaming audio)
It was so cool to walk into the Cochrane arena and see the New Hope band warming up. They were very tight today… awesome in fact, as was the entire team setting up the event. Rest of the service went well as well.
Probably one of the best parts of the morning for me was when Gilbert (one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, a hog farmer from Goderich and fellow rider) came up to me and said that we need to get a new bike for Hank (a 74 year old cyclist with a $300. ride that should have retired when he did…).
Hank has two new hips and can barely walk. His most common way of dismounting, the times I’ve seen him, is to simply fall over when he pulls into the pit stop. Honestly.

Gilbert comes up and asks if that guy I know who helped me get a bike might be a good contact for helping Hank out. I told him that Dean was actually at the service that morning and that I’d look for him. A few minutes later I bump into Dean and he’s already hooked them up with Ridley Cycle downtown. So cool to see how community works.

Hopefully it all works out for Hank. He’s a very courageous old dude. At the Abbotsford service, as I was preaching, I came to the point in my message where I was planning on talking directly to one of the congregants about how God has never left them alone or forsaken them. That person was Hank, “God has never let you down in the past and he’s not going to let you down now… God is faithful and will always take care of you!”

God taking care of his 74 year old child… now in a very practical way.

Should speed the old guy up on the road I’m thinking. (hopefully not faster than me.)

Authored by: rob_b on Monday, July 11 2005 @ 08:19 PM PDT
What a great celebration! I especially liked hearing about both the past and the future. Phil, Robin and John did a great job of challenging us.

And what's with Les Triplettes de Belleville. It's amazing how a wierd animation like this can be used to teach us about being church for the next 100 years.

Thanks to all the people who made this event happen.

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 12 2005 @ 05:28 AM PDT
SIMPLY AWSOME





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Day 15 – Canmore to Calgary – 105k

July 09, 2005


Day 15 – Canmore to Calgary – 105k

It’s kind of weird waking up with 100 people in your bedroom. The gym we all slept in is totally black right now. Some are still snoring. Alarms start to go off in all corners of the space. People are starting to walk around with flashlights. There’s even some idiot in the middle of the gym typing on his laptop.
Quite fun; a bit like camp as a kid. Someone just propped open an exterior door and a very cool rush of mountain air is rushing into the space. A welcome draft. My neighbour Jason just said, “Good morning.” Whispers start to fill our community. Hopefully harbingers of some good communication to come; on the road with friends again, and with our city this afternoon at the press conference. Hope it works out well God.

Now several people walk by and say good morning… laptop light always gives you away I guess.

Now the daily ritual begins…

1. 5:50 am - Unplug air mattress and use body mass to quickly deflate (slower now with decreased mass). Roll up and pack away. No tent to pack today.
2. Grab toiletries and get cleaned up before the masses hit the facilities
3. Change into road gear
4. Pack and lug gear bag into gear truck
5. Pack lunch and load up bike
6. Prepare hydration (water and Gatorade mixture for my camelback… even though Fran left last night with my newly purchased bladder in her purse!)
7. Have breakfast
8. Check over bike and pump up tires.
9. Coerce fellow riders to get their butts in gear so that we can leave on time (although no one really cares too much about time lately)
10. Tenderly place butt on seat and pedal 24,000 times. (80 pedals per minute for 5 hours or so!)







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Day 14 – Lake Louise to Canmore – 80k

July 09, 2005


Day 14 – Lake Louise to Canmore – 80k

Downhill for at least 80% of the ride; gotta love it. Highway 1A out of Louise; stunning, a half day in Banff treated for lunch; a blast, a 20k downhill, 30k tailwind ride into Canmore; priceless.
Signs abound that I’m getting closer to home. The surroundings are familiar. Several visitors from Calgary dropped by. Fran and Eddy came by tonight.

As they walked toward me from the parking lot I felt something I’d never felt before. A huge sense of longing, of having missed them, and a very vague and unfamiliar sense of not knowing who they were. Absence working in two directions.

We went our for dinner, swapped laundry (take that the right way), and within 2 hours kissed each other goodbye. Kissing’s great. Edward kept kissing my arm the whole time we were together.

Tonight the whole group is sleeping in a school gym. No tents because of the bears. Right now there are small groups gathered all over the floor. Some playing cards, others playing guitars, others just vegging, and a few people have already fallen asleep.

Feels like a commune. Most of the bedding is lined up along the exterior walls. I’ve located my air mattress at centre court. Wonder what Freud would have to say about that?




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News Spot - Sea to Sea Tour enters Calgary

July 09, 2005


News Spot
Sea to Sea Tour in Calgary
A Channel & Global TV Calgary, July 9/05







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CJ92 FM Sea to Sea interview #1

July 08, 2005


Link to CJ92 FM interview that John did Thursday morning with Jerry Forbes reguarding the bike tour.
Listen to the interview - mp3 format, 5 minutes



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Day 13 - Golden to Lake Louise – 80k

July 07, 2005


Day 13 - Golden to Lake Louise – 80k

Can you say, “best biking day in my life?” Climbed to and through the Kicking Horse Pass today. On one 7k grade I actually ended up pulling the guys up the hill for the first time. Very encouraging.

Huge beauty throughout the day. In the mountains and in the people. Community is really starting to develop now. Some people are already dreading having to leave in Regina.

Tomorrow Fran and the kids are coming for a visit in Canmore. I am so excited to see them.




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Day 12 – Revelstoke to Golden – 150k

July 07, 2005


Day 12 – Revelstoke to Golden – 150k

What an amazing ride. I’ve never done 150k in one run before, let alone including the Roger’s Pass. And believe it or not, it wasn’t all that bad. After a while the climbs fall into pattern and the descents, well you can always get used to them.
The day started off dry but then 5k from the summit the temperature began to drop and it started to rain quite heavily. It was actually quite beautiful. The rock faces glistened as we drove through the watering clouds. Everything was so moistfully alive. Reaching the summit was awesome. The last 2k I remembered all the times when I wondered if I’d be able to do this ride over the past few months. Roger’s Pass was one of the images that often came to mind in posing the question. And here I was, slowly plodding my way in a downpour and it was beautiful. My body capable of such a feat, my emotions resolute and strong; my spirit so moistfully alive. I can’t believe get to do this.

I’ve been riding this past week with a couple named Rob and Sherrie. Late twenties, environmentally aware, mountain biking people… oh, and very, very fun. We’ve laughed so many times, to the point of peeing our pants; literally… which is tough if you’re aware of the blotting capacity of Spandex. Rob has got to be one of the funniest guys I’ve met. He’s got a glint in his eye and an incredibly quick wit; mostly one liners. (my kind of man... although his wife laughs at his jokes!

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 08 2005 @ 06:13 AM PDT
Pastor John,
I love to read your comments. The ones from a week or so ago seemed discouraging, we had to pray that you had the energy/desire/willpower/health to continue on. It is nice to hear a new tone behind the words you write. May God bless you as you now get to ride downhill all the way to Halifax.
Say Hi to Maggie W from Waterloo, ON for me.
Steve B




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Day 11 - Salmon Arm to Revelstoke – 105k

July 07, 2005


Day 11 - Salmon Arm to Revelstoke – 105k

Absolutely terrific ride today. Felt healthy and strong, even on the hills. I can’t believe how much my body continues to change.

Did a TV and print press media thing today. Both went very well (I think).

I’ve just sat here for 10 minutes staring out of the media centre window (a motorhome I work in)… and nothing comes to mind to write. It’s 7:30 and I think I’ll go to sleep.




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Day 10 – Vernon to Salmon Arm – 60 k

July 07, 2005


Day 10 – Vernon to Salmon Arm – 60 k

Easy ride today. Feel a bit of fatigue in general; going to get an early night’s sleep. I’m so looking forward to seeing Fran and the kids this weekend (oh… and also any New Hope Church people who might be reading this… I’ll be the skinny guy who looks like John’s younger brother)





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Day 9 – Rest day in Vernon

July 05, 2005


Day 9 – Rest day in Vernon

Not a bad place to rest at all… apart from the 6 hours of work I did in writing a sermon for next weekend.

This afternoon I went and visited the Outhwaite’s, New Hope church members who have a place on the lake here in Vernon. Nice digs. Nice new boat. We spent the afternoon cruising, skiing, wakeboarding and surfing; ya surfing. Coolest thing I’ve seen lately. Deb O would hop out with a surf board, no foot holds, and a 12 foot rope, steady herself in the wave made by the wake of the boat, and then let go of the rope and surf. Very subtle, very smooth and very cool. You should have seen this woman go! One time, she says, she actually surfed right back up to the back of the boat and got on… with her board.

It was an amazingly relaxing day, the rest antidote for a Muskoka leisured dude. Tomorrow only 60k to Salmon Arm (the rest continues), and then a bigger run to Revelstoke. Then we’ve got the day that’s got everyone talking; 150k from Revelstoke to Golden.

A lot of the initial buzz of this ride has dissipated now. I’m still very happy to be riding my bike every day. Although sometimes I wish I didn’t have all the extra curricular activity to attend to (preaching and doing the media stuff). They really do get in the way sometimes.

Got to phone Gerry Forbes from CJAY now, and a few other press contacts in Calgary. I have a feeling that this might be a good press weekend for the ride. I’m hoping to ride and ever increasing press wave as we cross the country.

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 05 2005 @ 08:31 PM PDT
Tues Eve - Just a note of encouragement for the long day tomorrow. Isn't there a final hill DOWN? My prayers are with you and everyone. Hopefully the week and a half has put you in a rythm or something. Spoke with people in London Ont. tonight that I know whose son is on the ride and another person whose husband is riding. I'm keeping the family here updated. We're blessed by all of you. You show a sacraficial, strong spirit. Bless you. Plan to see you in Canmore on Friday. Helen in Cowtown






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